If you think preparing for sentencing and prison is risky or too hard, wait until they hand you the bill for not doing anything!

Imagine giving $175K to white-collar defense attorney only to be told months later, “don’t worry about getting character letters. I’m not sure the judge reads them. The guidelines, after all, are the guidelines. It is what it is you know? If we had a different Judge maybe but not much you do will matter. I will write your sentencing memo and that will be that.”

That was a portion of a text message I received from a white-collar defendant last evening at 7:42 pm pacific time.

We spoke this morning.

Naturally, this white-collar defendant, a Dr. from Ohio, remains distraught that every idea he throws to his lawyer is shut down and met with total pessimism.

“You know, I get the guidelines, but he sang a different tune before I hired him. Now, he is saying there is nothing to do and the guidelines are the guidelines. If that is the case, why did I give him $175K? I thought we would be meeting, planning, and creating a proactive strategy to prepare for sentencing. Instead, he tells me nothing I do matters (even working) and that it is best to just accept it. What can I do?”, he was angry. I do not blame him.

“What you can do is prepare regardless. Do the work you know has to be done. Invest the time to nurture relationships and keep working to build a new record. Invest the time to write your life story and do not be afraid to share it.”

I continued…

“Since I do not know your lawyer, I cannot speak to his motives. But I can speak to the poison of pessimism. Pessimist people look at all the reasons things should not be done. I heard that all day in federal prison and wrote about it in Lessons From Prison. Pessimist people, like your lawyer, tell you not to even bother. Pessimist people will only fixate on the problems, rather than trying to create new opportunities.” I told him.

“Yes, I agree. I know I have to do more work but I get so bummed out every time I speak to him. He just makes me want to give up. What do I do? I feel stuck.”

“You must do the work regardless of your lawyer. Even if the Judge does not read your letters–and I believe Judges do read them–what is the downside? No downside. You will have letters of support you can use for years to come. Even if your Judge does not read your personal narrative–and I believe Judges do read them–what is the downside? You will still have a personal narrative you can use to influence people you will meet down the road, like a case manager or probation officer.”

To this defendant’s credit, he agreed. He is going to go all in to prepare, regardless of his lawyer telling him his efforts are worthless. Our team is happy to assist him.

I will close with how I opened, ”

If you think preparing for sentencing and prison is risky or too hard, wait until they hand you the bill for not doing anything!

Justin Paperny

Last Day In Federal Prison Camp

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